I used to tell myself I was a terrible mother on a daily basis.
I’ve let my son have hamburger meat with processed cheese on it, fries, and Chicken McNuggets. He has also tried Chef Boyardee. He likes it. All of it.
Ronald McDonald on a trike is his favorite “travel” toy. A Sponge-Bob Square-Pants mini board book from Swiss Chalet makes him giggle every time he “reads” it. He loves BBQ Chicken with a bit of mayonnaise on it.
*Tip: Keep all restaurant toys you get in a Ziploc bag in the car. When travelling, you can pull them out for kids to play. If you lose one as you jet from place to place, its no biggie, since the toys weren’t expensive. If the child was super attached to it, angle for another one at the restaurant.
But it gets worse than that…
I went back on my sworn statement to make all his baby food.
The ideals and admonished statements I made from his newborn days haunt me as I hand him a Heinz toddler cookie before dinner to keep him happy as the pasta cooks. I once said it was “all home made or nothing!”, “I will not use food as a bribe”. and “My son will not be fed junk food!”. I had recipes for home made teething biscuits, and we thought about how best to introduce him to the wonders of brussel sprouts. We made our own pureed veggie mix, but when I went back to work in February, the bottled baby food was bought. I felt like I was lower than a snake’s belly the first night I snicked the top off one of the Heinz food jars, and spooned out sweet potato into a bowl to nuke. How could I go back on my principle? My son was destined for a life of second measures, since I was now feeding him from a jar, instead of from food crafted by my own two hands. What kind of mother was I, not sticking to my beliefs, and caving like a deck of cards in a windstorm?
But, as I looked at the clock, read 6:30 PM, and yawned, all notion of being organic, local, and home-made vanished. Baby needed to be fed, and then I needed to collapse like an overstuffed bag of potatoes in the produce aisle. Three hours of sleep a night was not enough to work all day, pump milk, and be a mom in the middle of winter, with a cold.
He loved it, of course, mixed with his rice or mixed grain cereal, and we sometimes threw pasta shapes in, all cut up, to give him something new. He gobbled it, and asked for more. I never bought food with added sugar, and the stuff was pretty much just veggies/fruit and water. That relieved some of my guilt, but none of the knowledge that I was passing my love on via Beech Nut pureed beans.
We stopped feeding him baby food around ten months, since he was more interested in our food. We thank God he loves broccoli, and all number of veggies cooked or raw. I think, had he not adapted so well to finger foods for us to redeem ourselves with the no-home made thing, I would be cast out of the *Crunchy Mother’s Guild (that people seem to think I am a member of) forever for going back on my plans to be the super-mom I envisioned myself being. This vision being the dynamo with a sparkly chemical-free clean house filled with educational wooden and cloth toys, adorable cloth-diapered breastfed child, happily involved husband, freezer full of home made purees and stored breastmilk, and rewarding writing career, all wrapped up in a neat organic, locally-made, and nutritious bow.
I ate the bow and washed it down with a Coke while reading the ingredient list on a box of Mum-Mums, when I realized that motherhood cannot be planned. You must adapt on the fly, upend yourself into the world, and figure it out as you go, sometimes compromising on things you never thought you would compromise on. Like baby food, breastfeeding, and diapering.
McDonalds, and Chef Boyardee? I suppose I can live with it, and the occasional bout of “I’m a terrible mother” each time compromises must be hurdled as my son grows.
They just aren’t daily admonishments anymore, thank God.